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Thekla’s future still in doubt, as new development approved

By | Published on Thursday 9 November 2017

Save Thekla

The future of Bristol’s Thekla music venue remains in doubt, after the local council last night approved plans to build a residential development nearby.

As previously reported, Thekla is based on a ship moored on Bristol’s East Mud Dock. It is feared that noise complaints from the new flats could lead to it being shut down, if developers don’t put in place proper soundproofing to avoid this. A noise assessment was carried out on Saturday, but the venue’s owner, DHP Family, says this was inadequate.

This is a common problem faced by music venues in cities around the UK, of course. The music venue makes some part of a city a more buzzy and desirable place to be. Property developers build flats so that more people can be there among the buzz. Then the new residents moan the thing that made the area desirable in the first place out of existence.

However, argues the Music Venue Trust, when developers recognise the value of nearby venues and other nightlife, and design properties in sympathy with them, all can co-exist happily. This, of course, does cost more money, and a commitment from any property developer to ensure happy co-existence is required from the start. Not least because said developers are usually long gone by the time any actual fallout happens.

At last night’s planning meeting, councillors waved through the new development in Bristol, after the developer, Aspect360, gave assurances that it would carry out more thorough noise assessments. DHP Family asked that the planning decision be deferred until these had been carried out, but this request was denied.

With Thekla’s future still somewhat in doubt, the next stage of the campaign is to pressure Aspect360 to carry out the promised adequate noise assessments and to then adjust the design of its new building accordingly. Campaigners also plan to put pressure on the council to ensure that this happens.

DHP’s Head Of Compliance, Julie Tippins, said in a statement: “We are disappointed that despite our compelling arguments for a deferral of this decision until a suitable and sufficient noise survey can be conducted, this development in it’s current proposal is going forward. We appeal to the developer to keep to their promise to work with us on a new noise survey and improved sound insulation scheme to protect Thekla and the future residents from noise problems. We expect the council to follow up on the assurances they gave to councillors to only give the go ahead once they were satisfied the Thekla would be protected from future noise complaints from residents of the development”.

She continued: “This is certainly not the end of the fight to protect the Thekla as we have to ensure that all parties keep to the commitments they have given. We urge our supporters to contact their local councillors and MPs to ensure the council does all it can to protect the future of the Thekla”.

Music Venue Trust boss Mark Davyd added: “Sensible and adequately planned residential developments near to grassroots music venues like the Thekla mean that residents and music lovers can happily co-exist. That outcome starts at the planning application stage when a good developer recognises the cultural value of the existing music venue and takes steps to protect it”.

“Recognising the existence of an iconic music venue like Thekla starts with a thorough environmental impact study that specifically understands the noise in the area”, he went on. “Properly understanding noise and activity results in great design for any refurbishment or new building, ensuring noise is managed and controlled”.

When built, the new development on Bristol’s Redcliffe Wharf, on the opposite side of the canal to Thekla, will include 6300sqm of commercial space, 36 residential apartments and twelve boat moorings.



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